This parenting thing is hard and “Mom-guilt” is a real thing. My story of becoming a mom didn’t start out the way I expected, but I am regularly amazed at how my heart can seem to grow so big and love so deep and so fierce when it comes to my children. My husband and I were married almost three years when we decided we were ready to start trying to have kids. My parents waited five years before they had me and I always thought that sounded like such an ideal amount of time, however my mom got married at 19 and I got married at almost 28 so we condensed our wait time!
A couple of days before our three-year anniversary, I thought I might be pregnant so I rushed to the store, bought a pregnancy test and couldn’t even wait for my husband to get home before I took it. The test was positive! I decided I wanted to wait for our anniversary to tell my husband the results so I lived with this amazingly wonderful secret for a couple of days. Every moment I thought about it, I would start smiling uncontrollably and was filled with such joy. I was over the moon excited! After sharing my good news with my husband, I started sharing it with everyone important to me.
Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. My first doctor’s appointment confirmed the pregnancy, but since I was a little muddy on the date of my last period, we were unsure of how far along I was. An ultrasound was scheduled, however the findings were inconclusive so I was scheduled for a follow up ultrasound. This one would be more in depth and would confirm everything was okay.
I was terrified something was wrong and that somehow I had messed this up. My parents, brother and husband came with me to the ultrasound and unfortunately it confirmed my fear - my pregnancy was not viable. I was not going to have a baby. How could this be true? I was in shock and completely heart-broken. My doctor gave me the option to wait a couple of weeks to see if my body would naturally remove it or I could have a D&C. I decided to wait. I didn’t yet want to give up hope, but within a couple of days I started spotting and cramping and then started bleeding more.
The day it officially happened could not have been a worse day. I was scheduled to officiate a wedding for a neighbor’s daughter. I had asked a pastor friend if she could be on standby in case my miscarriage started, but everything had been okay (or as okay as it could be) until halfway to the wedding. My husband pulled over at a McDonald’s (seriously, a McDonald’s!) and I confirmed my worst fear - I was miscarrying what should have been our baby! We didn’t want to tell the happy couple and family what I was going through, so my husband shared that I was sick and I wouldn’t be available to interact much after the ceremony. It was an incredible paradox - one of the happiest days for one couple and one of the toughest days for another couple.
My heart hurt. My body hurt. I felt broken. I know people often advise waiting until you are at least three months along to tell people, however I am grateful I told people early. It was not easy to tell them I lost the baby, but it was nice to have people around me to help me through it.
It took a month or more for my hormone levels to return to normal. The doctor said we could start trying immediately and said often once you get pregnant, it is easier to get pregnant again. Every month I started my period was heartbreaking, however I know I am one of the lucky ones since I can happily report that I did become pregnant about four months later and carried my daughter full-term. She was even born on her due date! When my daughter Kate was born, I was so over the moon excited. She was, and still is, absolutely wonderful.
My husband and I determined we wanted to be “one and done.” We got a perfect one this time, so let’s just call it quits! We joke, but that isn’t actually how it happened. I had a strong calling to participate in the foster care system. It was a passion that was ignited in my early twenties and after a handful of profound moments, it became incredibly clear to me that this is what I wanted to pursue.
While my husband and I were convinced that one biological child for us was the right decision, I also knew that I had more love to give and there were more children who needed love. We went through all the foster care classes and became a licensed foster care family. Our passion was to take in children between the ages of birth and three (Kate was two at the time) and provide a home for them until either they would be able to be reunited back with their parents or ready for permanent adoption. Our goal was not to grow our family through adoption, but to be part of children’s stories and lives by giving them a loving, stable home for however long we were entrusted with their care.
Now, I do understand that this is a much easier plan in theory than in reality. Right after we became officially licensed, we had a number of big trips planned with work and decided we would wait to take a permanent placement until we were finished traveling. However, we did open our home up to respite care. Respite care is when you take children in foster care for a short amount of time to provide assistance to their foster families. The first little boy we had was three years old and quite possibly the sweetest, most athletic little guy ever! Within a day he was calling us mom and dad. We tried to correct him but because that is what my daughter called us, mom and dad stuck. We made cookies, read stories, went to the park, rode bikes, played and laughed together. When it came time for his foster family to come pick him up, he cried and wanted to stay with us. My heart was gutted and I questioned whether or not I will ever be able to give a child back! I only had him in our home for four days and I was ready to sign up to adopt him permanently!
My husband and I had our final big trip - a fun work trip at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica! We went scuba diving, swimming, tried all sorts of alcoholic drinks (I’m not much of a drinker but hey, it was all-inclusive) and enjoyed all aspects of the resort. On the trip home, I became very aware that I was late. All of my thoughts were consumed with the question, “Could I be pregnant?”
As soon as we got home, we purchased a pregnancy test and sure enough, I was pregnant! How did this happen? (I know how it happened, it just wasn’t part of our plan!) Truly, our plan was to be one and done. We planned to take our first permanent placement for foster care now that we were home for good. Being pregnant was not on my to-do list. And, to make matters even more complicated, I had just done a lot of pregnancy no-no’s, including scuba diving and drinking. Did this child stand a chance to be normal?! (Turns out, early on in pregnancy it happens a lot and most of the time no harm is done to the baby.)
I was depressed about being pregnant and this made me feel guilty. I struggled for the first couple of months of my pregnancy. I was so disappointed that I was pregnant, which made me feel incredibly guilty and like a terrible mom. I also was heartbroken that I was pregnant (while not really wanting to be) knowing that close friends and family were unable to get pregnant. To top it all off, I am a terrible pregnant person. I am incredibly sick for all nine months and I never get to experience that magic week when the sickness suddenly goes away.
We decided early on that we needed to put foster care on hold. I didn’t believe I could be pregnant, raise a toddler, take over a business AND foster a child all at the same timed, which only increased my guilt and heartbreak. I had no doubt that I would love this child inside me forever and ever, I just beat myself up for way too long. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that this was not a part of my plan; so does that make this an unwanted pregnancy?
None of that mattered the moment Jack was born. I truly believe that Jack was and is my gift baby. He is pure joy and radiates a glow and sense of fun and love. My curly-headed, blond baby makes this momma smile. At times he is pure trouble (he is THREE after all), but he is a happy, loveable, cuddly little guy who, every day, I thank God he is mine.
I don’t know about you, but life has not played out exactly the way I had planned or hoped. I know it has been said before, but I 100% believe it to be true, that while I may have many titles - wife, sister, daughter, friend, boss, and co-worker - my favorite is Mom. Every day brings with it new challenges, but I am grateful and I fight hard to not let “Mom-guilt” get the best of me. Every day (well, most days), I try to be the best mom I can be and give my kids my best. I am far from perfect and often wish I could hit rewind and start the day over. I pray for patience, wisdom and love. While I do not get to spend as much time with my kids as I want due to other responsibilities and commitments, I try not to let the moments I do have pass me by without noticing.
Being a mom is an incredible gift, exceedingly challenging and totally worth it! So however you became a mom, through birth, adoption, fostering or some other option, may you be reminded that no matter what path life took you to get where you are today, there is beauty in your story and in the story and lives of your children.
Allison lives in Chandler, Arizona, where her days are filled with two wonderful little kids, Kate ( 7) and Jack (3). She and her husband own their own business and while there are perks that also means they work a LOT! She loves to find new things to do with her children, new parks to explore, aquariums, museums, play dates with friends and going out to eat. When she has time to herself, Allison enjoys reading, working out and boating.